Authorities say a California man convicted of mail fraud who escaped from a Utah jail by posing as a fellow inmate whose time had come to be released was captured in Idaho
SALT LAKE CITY — A California man convicted of mail fraud who escaped from a Utah jail by posing as a fellow inmate whose time had come to be released was captured in Idaho Friday, authorities said.
Kaleb Wiewandt was arrested on Interstate 84 southeast of Mountain Home, Idaho, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release. Law enforcement had been tracking the vehicle in which Wiewandt was a passenger and he surrendered without incident when they made the traffic stop.
Wiewandt, 40, was allowed to leave a county jail in Ogden, Utah, on Tuesday because staff thought he was a fellow inmate who was supposed to be freed that night, authorities said.
“I hope his four-day vacation was worth it because I suspect he won’t see the light of day for quite some time,” said Matthew D. Harris, U.S. marshal in Utah.
Authorities say Wiewandt received help from Matthew Belnap, the inmate he posed as to plot his escape. On Monday, Belnap had helped Wiewandt shave his head to look like him and he also gave Wiewandt his identification card, authorities said. Wiewandt recited Belnap’s date of birth and Social Security number to jail staff before he was released.
Belnap, 36, has been charged with obstruction of justice for his role in the escape. His motive was unknown.
Wiewandt, of Orange County, California, had been in the jail since December, one month after he was arrested in California for having escaped a halfway house for parolees in Utah in September 2018, court documents show.
He was the halfway house as part of his supervised released after he pleaded guilty in 2015 to mail and wire fraud in a federal court in Arizona. He acknowledged taking part in a scheme to steal stamps from post offices over two years in which he and others stole $1.2 million in stamps and sold them for nearly half of that value, court documents show.
He was sentenced in 2016 to four years and three months in prison, and three years supervised release.
Weber County sheriff’s officials have launched an investigation to assess what went wrong and how they can prevent it from happening again, including the possible addition of a biometric fingerprint scanner.